Party leaders within the Forest Hills district said no other name comes to mind when considering a nominee for the Assembly seat vacated by Cohen, who said he was taking a job with the Health Insurance Plan of New York that would allow him to spend more time with his family.Hevesi, a Forest Hills native, said Monday that "as of today I'm very seriously considering it."The 31-year-old director of community affairs for Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum comes from a long line of able public figures. His father, before serving as both city and now state comptroller, spent 22 years in the Assembly, serving the same district as Cohen, which covers Forest Hills, Rego Park, Glendale and Middle Village. Andrew's older brother, Daniel Hevesi, also represented that area as state senator until 2002."This is a natural extension for Andrew. He's simply carrying on the family tradition," said state Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx), whom Andrew Hevesi served under as chief of staff for two years. Indeed, the lack of other candidates has caused little concern among the four district leaders assigned to pick a Democratic nominee for Cohen's seat. "We're positive about Mr. Hevesi," said Howard Pollack, echoing the sentiments of his fellow district leaders, Joyce Singerman, Lewis Brandt and Councilwoman Melinda Katz (D-Forest Hills)."Andrew certainly knows Albany very well," Katz agreed.Pollack, who managed Cohen's 1998 campaign, was also considered a frontrunner for the open seat. But after conversations with Queens Democratic Organization Chairman Thomas Manton, he decided it was best not run, he said.The Democratic Party's executive secretary, Michael Reich, described Hevesi as "competent.""He's grown up at his father's side learning the business," he said. "It's pretty hard to beat the stature of someone like Andrew Hevesi."Yet that is exactly what local Republicans hope to accomplish.Matthew Hunter, a Forest Hills attorney who ran against Cohen in 1998, said he considers the upcoming special election an "optimal circumstance" for the Republican party to fill a seat in the Democratic-led Assembly.Hunter, who is considering running himself, said the 28th District statistically had one of the state's heaviest Republican constituencies."If we don't act now, we'll come to the point where we won't even be up to bat anymore," Hunter said.Reich said the Democratic leadership would announce its nomination as soon as Gov. George Pataki sets an election date.Reach reporter Zach Patberg by e-mail at news@times
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